Digitage Web 2.0

June 14, 2007


Logos from Web 2.0 are caught in the web somewhere between NASA photos of deep space, science fiction landscapes of our inner space, the synapses of the brain, the virtual space that is not abstract, imagined or really real.

Web 2.0, is a term coined by Tim O’Reilly in 2004 for a series of conferences on a revivified Internet. O’Reilly (2005) in what is now considered to be his seminal article claimed that, “If Netscape was the standard bearer for Web 1.0, Google is most certainly the standard bearer for Web 2.0 (O’Reilly 2005). He contrasted Web 1.0 with Web 2.0 by citing examples: DoubleClick vs Google AdSense, Ofoto vs Flickr, Britannica Online vs Wikipedia, personal websites vs blogging, domain name speculation vs search engine optimization, page views vs cost per click, publishing vs participation, content management systems vs wikis directories (taxonomy) vs tagging (”folksonomy”) and stickiness vs syndication. The conceptual map his team devised provides a sketch of Web 2.0 showing social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies.

Although some argue that it does not exist as anything more than geek jargon, for this new user, it is a promising and surprising paradigm shift in the Internet and in software development. I began blogging using Web 2.0 freeware in September 2006. Numerous users like myself have access to sophisticated, ever-improving software technologies since the cost of development is shared among enthusiastic nerds and geeks (in a good way). Freeware on Web 2.0 is not proprietary by nature but is capable of generating huge profits because of the viral way in which users share in the development, marketing and growth of the product while improving connectivity and in content in the process.

Note: June 2007. This image was included in Weinreich’s slideshare album with a layer of text he added:New Generation Social Marketing. He had to resize the image to the PowerPoint format. It is credited to me in the transcript. It is fascinating how digitage such as this has a potential for producing offshoots. I am investigating the potential of slideshare for managing teaching, learning and research digitage (slides) in one place. I started to put them in my Flickr albums. Since I first created this image I have begun to use YouTube, Google docs, iGoogle and Facebook so there are several layers of text orbits to be added . . .

Key words: slideshare, academic, blog, blogging, collaboration, presentation, web2.0, powerpoint, slides, sharing presentations, slideshare, academic, collaboration, presentation, web2.0, powerpoint, slides, sharing presentations, Tim O’Reilly, wordpress.com, vastation, synaptic gasp, swicki, synapses, synaptic cleft, synaptic gap, rapture of the deep internet, photoshop, neuroscience, neural architectonics, mind-brain, googleearth, gather, frimr, flickr, digitage, delicious, cybernarcosis, cyberdelirium, cyberdeliria, creative commons, consciousness, bricoleuse, blogspot, blogging, art and science, technology, mind, Adobe Photoshop

Selected webliography

Tim O’Reilly, 2005. “What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software”. Uploaded 09/30/2005. Accessed January 6, 2007.

Speechless

December 11, 2006


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Somewhere on the Pacific a small lifeboat shared by two unwilling and unlikely passengers rolled with the waves. Pi knew he could do more than just survive once he realized that Richard was dependent on him. Pi could fish. A Bengal Tiger, king of his own ecosystem, would die at sea without the help of the seventeen-year-old. The book really ended there; it didn’t matter after that what was truth or fiction. Pi’s understanding of power in everyday life was his new reality.

Speechless refers to both the writer and reader. At one level it’s about a writers’ block being blogged. At another level is refers to deafening silence that occurs when one speaks with too much feeling or mentions an uncomfortable idea in a nice place, a unpleasant reminder in polite company, a divergent idea in a space of group think, another perspective than the Renaissance perspective. But it also refers to robust conversations among political philosophers who understand the power of language and everyday life. Socrates, Plato, Derrida called for renewals in philosophy. They examined what we do with words, the role of memory. Speechless alludes to Derrida’s urgent appeal for a renewed democracy, for a revitalized philosophy from a cosmopolitical point of view.

The human eye can distinguish 16 values of grey but that’s not including the subtle differences in the colours of grey. We just don’t have the time to see the variations.

I began speechless on October 16, 2006. Two months later I have learned what a permalink is and how to make one. It’s the equivalent to the old web page’s index.html. Now I have to learn where to use it.

https://oceanflynn.wordpress.com/index.php/2006/12/11/speechless

The cloud of tags below has grown organically since I first began using WordPress as my main blog host on October 16, 2006. I am building my customized clouds of folksonomies by working on and learning from a number of Web 2.0 feeds. This includes a Flickr account for photo blogging which attracts alot of viewers. I have only a couple of dozen images but one image alone uploaded on October 22, 2006 was viewed 1,179 times over a period of 64 days! I reworked this image again and posted it on speechless under “Wave Algorithms.”

Featured folksonomy:

Benign colonialism is a term that refers to an alleged form of colonialism in which benefits outweighed risks for indigenous population whose lands, resources, rights and freedoms were preempted by a colonizing nation-state. The historical source for the concept of benign colonialism resides with John Stuart Mills who was chief examiner of the British East India Company dealing with British interests in India in the 1820s and 1830s. Mills most well-known essays (1844) on benign colonialism are found in Essays on some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy. Mills’ view contrasted with Burkean orientalists. Mills promoted the training of a corps of bureaucrats indigenous to India who could adopt the modern liberal perspective and values of 19th century Britain. Mills predicted this group’s eventual governance of India would be based on British values and perspectives. Those who adopt benign colonialism as a truth claim argue that education, health, housing and employment possibilities improved conditions for indigenous peoples as settlers, merchants and administrators also brought new industries, liberal markets, developed natural resources and introduced improved governance. The first wave of benign colonialism lasted from c. 1790s-1960s. The second wave included new colonial policies such as exemplified in Hong Kong (Liu 2003)), where unfettered expansion of the market created a new form of benign colonialism. Political interference and military interference (Doyle 2006) in independent nation-states, such as Iraq (Campo 2004 ), is also discussed under the rubric of benign colonialism in which a foreign power preempts national governance to protect a higher concept of freedom. The term is also used in the 21st century to refer to American, French and Chinese market activities in countries on the African continent with massive quantities of underdeveloped nonrenewable envied resources. Literature that challenges the assumptions of benign colonialism claiming colonialist project as it actually unfolded placed First Nations, Inuit and Métis at higher risks of vulnerabilities to catastrophes, to social exclusion and human rights abuses, have not been as widely publicized.

For more see Flynn-Burhoe (2007).

There is a widespread Canadian mythology that First Nations, Inuit and Métis are among those who benefited from settler colonies prempting, improving, managing and governing aboriginal lands, resources and educating, training, developing, serving, monitoring and governing its peoples. Those who adopt benign colonialism as a truth claim argue that education, health, housing and employment possibilities improved conditions for the indigenous peoples since the arrival of settlers. Literature that challenges the assumptions of benign colonialism claiming colonialist project as it actually unfolded placed First Nations, Inuit and Métis at higher risks of vulnerabilities to catastrophes, to social exclusion and human rights abuses, have not been as widely publicized. The Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (RCAP) addressed these claims but the term benign colonialism is still a convenient truth for many. Celebratory and one-sided social histories of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the RCMP, and various government leaders such as John A. MacDonald or civil servants such as Indian Agents, northern adventurers, when viewed through the lens of settlers while ignoring the perspective of First Nations, Inuit and Métis contribute to on-going dissemination of distorted histories. Museums, maps and census contribute to these distorted histories by grave omissions.

Related citations:

“Today, Mill’s most controversial case would be benign colonialism. His principles of nonintervention only hold among “civilized” nations. “Uncivilized” peoples, among whom Mill dumps most of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, are not fit for the principle of nonintervention. Like Oude (in India), they suffer four debilitating infirmities – despotism, anarchy, amoral presentism and familism — that make them incapable of self-determination. The people are imposed upon by a “despot… so oppressive and extortionate as to devastate the country.” Despotism long endured has produced “such a state of nerveless imbecility that everyone subject to their will, who had not the means of defending himself by his own armed followers, was the prey of anybody who had a band of ruffians in his pay.” The people as a result deteriorate into amoral relations in which the present overwhelms the future and no contracts can be relied upon. Moral duties extend no further than the family; national or civic identity is altogether absent. In these circumstances, Mill claims, benign colonialism is best for the population . Normal relations cannot be maintained in such an anarchic and lawless environment. It is important to note that Mill advocates neither exploitation nor racialist domination. He applies the same reasoning to once primitive northern Europeans who benefited from the imperial rule imposed by civilized Romans. The duties of paternal care, moreover, are real, precluding oppression and exploitation and requiring care and education designed to one day fit the colonized people for independent national existence. Nonetheless, the argument also rests on (wildly distorted) readings of the history and culture of Africa and Asia and Latin America. Anarchy and despotic oppression did afflict many of the peoples in these regions, but ancient cultures embodying deep senses of social obligation made nonsense of presentism and familism. Shorn of its cultural “Orientalism,” Mill’s argument for trusteeship addresses one serious gap in our strategies of humanitarian assistance: the devastations that cannot be readily redressed by a quick intervention designed to liberate an oppressed people from the clutches of foreign oppression or a domestic despot. But how does one prevent benign trusteeship from becoming malign imperialism, particularly when one recalls the flowery words and humanitarian intentions that accompanied the conquerors of Africa? How far is it from the Anti-Slavery Campaign and the Aborigine Rights Protection Society to King Leopold’s Congo and Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”?

Here Doyle is referring to John S. Mill cited in “A Few Words on Nonintervention.” . 1973. In Essays on Politics and Culture, edited by Gertrude Himmelfarb, 368-84. Gloucester, Peter Smith.

See also WordPress featured blogs Benign colonialism.

Related tags: Tom Kent Royal Commission on Newspapers, Hackett and Zhao, economic efficiency, Power and everyday life, ethical topography of self and the Other, teaching learning and research, wealth disparities will intensify, C.D. Howe, Cannibals with Forks.Selected annotated webliography

Campo, Juan E.  2004. “Benign Colonialism? The Iraq War: Hidden Agendas and Babylonian Intrigue.” Interventionism. 26:1. Spring.

Doyle, Michael W.  2006. “Sovereignty and Humanitarian Military Intervention.” Hoover Institute.

Falk, Richard. Human Rights Horizons: the Pursuit of Justice in a Globalizing World. New York & London: Routledge.

Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. Benign colonialism. >> Speechless. Uploaded January 14th, 2007

Liu, Henry C. K. “China: a Case of Self-Delusion: Part 1: From colonialism to confusionLiu 2003.” Asia Times. May 14, 2003.

Kurtz,Stanley. 2003.”Lessons from the British in India.” Democratic Imperialism: A Blueprint. Policy Review.Mill, John Stuart. 1844. Essays on some Unsettled Questions of Political Economy.
Of these Essays, which were written in 1829 and 1830,

Current debates on colonization and human rights (Falk 2000) raise questions about the notion of benign colonialism. The dominant language, culture and values of colonizers imposed on colonised peoples is often narrated as salutary. Dominant social and cultural institutions contributed to faciliating the entry of indigenous peoples trapped in unsustainable subsistence economies. Previously colonised peoples claim that the colonization process resulted in a parallel process of the colonization of the minds of indigenous peoples. The process of decolonization of memory (Ricoeur 1980), history and the spirit is crucial for the social inclusion (OECD) of indigenous peoples and nations within nations, such as Canada.

 



I don’t remember when it started. But I know that after this it got worse. A few days after Jennifer was killed my class was canceled because the RCMP had shut down the entire capital of Nunavut — well, they told the taxi service to no longer take calls. Later we found out that someone with a rifle on a snowmobile was riding around town shooting randomly in the air. We were told there was no danger. Jennifer’s murderer was not found during my entire stay that term. When taxis were back in service we would sometimes drive close to her home surrounded by the police yellow tape. An RCMP officer came over to chat with the taxi driver. My route was no where near but taxis are shared in Iqaluit so you never know where you might find yourself. I was not afraid for myself since the violence in Nunavut is Inuit against Inuit. But I was afraid. The death as described by so many people was so violent. It was more like an unpaid drug dealer’s cruel and cowardly threat to someone else. Jennifer was chosen as the victim. There was no explanation. I began to understand why Inuit youth from Iqaluit listened to Tupak and related to the violence described in his rap music from the Hood.

We all sat there in the overcrowded auditorium in Inukshuk High School. We held candles, remembered the women victims of violence in Montreal but everyone thought of Jennifer. In the background was a stretched seal skin, a cultural symbol of the community. Paututiit, the Inuit Women’s association used this as a symbol of unity where each peg serves the purpose of stretching the skin evenly. Each is needed. each has equal value.

If Jennifer had not been so violently killed she would probably not be part of my everyday life years later. There are some images you cannot forget, at least I cannot.

Meda coverage:

For multiple media bookmarks see here. This Globe and Mail article is particularly moving.

On Friday, Dec. 6, 2002, 13-year-old Jennifer Naglingniq, of Iqaluit, Nunavut, helped her teacher hang Christmas decorations. A few hours later she was dead, xxx murdered in her home. Her mother, CBC Iqaluit program clerk Nicotye Naglingniq, found her body when she returned home shortly after midnight.

Wende Tulk, Jennifer’s home room teacher at Inuksuk high school, says Jennifer was a special student – bright, with high marks and a natural leader. “People listened to her. You know when she graduated she would be doing great things.”; She was an enthusiastic soccer player and just bought new soccer shoes the day before she was killed. Tulk will be haunted by Jennifer’s dyed-orange ponytail, her beautiful voice and her positive attitude. “She was always singing, always happy.” She said that Jennifer – and her final act of helpfulness – won’t be soon forgotten. ” We’re going to leave those Christmas decorations up all year now.”

xxxx, 24, was charged with Jennifer’s murder but was released from Baffin Correctional Centre a few days later, when the charge of first degree murder was stayed.. The Crown decided the case against xxxx wasn’t strong enough to proceed at this time. The Crown has one year to reactivate the case. The RCMP say they are continuing the investigation. Police are not revealing how Jennifer was murdered, saying that only them and the murderer know how she died.

Please support the Jennifer Naglingniq Memorial Fund. A memorial fund has been set up to create an annual award in Jennifer’s name for a student at Inukshuk high school who contributes to making Iqaluit a better place. Donations can be made at the CBC Toronto Credit Union in the Jennifer Naglingniq Memorial Fund account 9879 or through the Bank of Montreal in Iqaluit, account 3635 8040 108. You can also send your donation to: The Jennifer Naglingniq Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 490, Iqaluit, NU X0A 0H0. Please give generously. The deadline for donations at the CBC Toronto Credit Union may be expired (Source 2002?).”

Allison Brewer. 2003. “Troubled ghosts of our sisters.” The Globe & Mail. Saturday, December 6: A19

A year ago, as we in Iqaluit prepared to commemorate the Montreal Massacre, one of our own was added to the list of victims of violence against women. Dec. 6, 2002, dawned cold and clear in Iqaluit. A community not unfamiliar with the subject, it had for years recognized and honoured the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Last year, the 13th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, was no different. As I made my way down the hill on a morning walk to work with Maureen Doherty, the event organizer, there were the usual worries. Had enough coffee and tea been ordered for the expected 50 or so people who usually show up for the event? Would the change of venue from the Arctic College campus to Inuksuk High School work? All matters that seemed of great importance that morning (Brewer 2003:A19).


Fantasy Palace, Iqaluit, Nunavut June 27, 2002

Fantasy Palace, Iqaluit, Nunavut June 27, 2002@ Flickr

This is a partial truth, more like a flicktion, or a dream, or the virtual than the real. It’s not science or art, more like an invention or innovation. Pieces of this a flicktion are scattered throughout my semi-nomadic cybercamps like tiny inukshuk on a global landscape. It mimics visual anthropology but isn’t. It imitates ethnography but lacks the objectivity. There are words written, pictures taken of events, dates, settings, stages and characters without an author. Maybe it’s the wrong venue in a photo album of beaming faces, stunning scenery, professional photographers, travelers, techies, retirees. But we can all choose to follow each others sign posts in this cyberspace or move on. This is the power of this new social space spun in CyberWeb 2.0.

Cultural ethnographers are supposed to return to their academic spaces, sharpen their methodological tools to a tip that almost cuts the paper they write on (and too often the culture, pop or otherwise they are writing about). You’re not supposed to return from the field with their your mind numbed from the frosted words of those who were seduced by the gold mine of benign colonialism, their voices confident, mocking, paternalistic, jaded by years, or decades of northern experience (1970s-2002). Your were supposed to leave the field with the pace of your beating heart uninterrupted inside your embodied self. You weren’t supposed to leave your a chunk of your soul in that graveyard in Pangnirtung on the Cumberland Sound. This is just lack of professionalism. Get a grip. Just write that comprehensive, proposal, dissertation. Move on. It’s just the way it is.
In this coffee shop sipping a cup of freshly brewed French Roast, (better than a Vancouver Starbucks!), SWF listened with her eyes. She was compassionate but ever so slightly distant. She doesn’t seem to realize how much others from the outside can perceive her knowledge. It is what at times makes her intimidating. Her three generation life story is the stuff of Inuit social history. She seems to almost be unaware of how important that story is. She was surprised that the First Nations cared about the creation of Nunavut. I remember our first class together. She spoke so softly but she was so firm, so insistent, modest and dignified. The wails I had heard by the open graves that still echo in my mind, were all too familiar to her. Slowly, insistently she explained to me as if I really needed to listen, remember, register this.

“We do not need your tears. We have enough of our own. We do not need you to fix this. We need your respect. We need you to not make it worse. We need you to listen to us, really listen. Alone, with no resources an elder has been taking them out on the land. She gets no funding. What she has done works. The funding is going elsewhere on projects that are promoted by the insiders. Inuit like her are not insiders.”


a Flicktion

Arctic Adventurer: a Flicktion

Under construction: work in process

June 2002

In the few short months that I have spent in Nunavut, two mothers who had become my colleagues and friends, lost youthful sons to suicide. Within a brief period of two months, four youth in a community of less than 1,500 people committed suicide. Almost the entire community attended the funeral. The hall was filled with infants, toddlers, children, youth, adults and elders. The youngest children wove between chairs and family members, comfortably a part of community life. Youth dressed in southern street-smart clothing respectfully gave their seats to elders. The shared pain in the room at the loss of their youth through suicide, was suffocating. At the graveside, it was cold and windy. It began to snow. As one mother witnessed the shovel-fulls of sand thudding onto her son’s coffin, another walked quietly alone to another fresh grave nearby. I stood there helpless feeling so overwhelmed I couldn’t move. I know many others felt the same paralysis. How many of us were mothers? How many of us had sons in their twenties?
The family of the young man, colleagues and friends provided support to the parents and to each other. On the return flight home, one man was unusually upbeat and talkative. Perhaps that is his way of dealing with the pain. I didn’t know who he was. He sat behind me. As I left the plane I asked the woman next to me who this man was. To my astonishment it was the *** for Nunavut. He was one of the few people who had it in his power to make policies to implement changes.

Following the suicides, friends and acquaintances attempted to find ways of absorbing yet another tragedy. Some felt anger at the youth who committed suicide. Many expressed feelings of numbness. Some regretted their own inability to know what to do. They felt guilty for not knowing how to prevent it. Like many others I feel a sense of powerlessness.

November 21, 2003:

Email communication:

I hope things go well with you. I am writing to ask your favour in helping a bit on your recent (and future) expense claims. I know that S.H. is a bit harried, working herself as a full-time instructor as well as the financial manager on this project. I really do not want her — nor is it fair — working as a glorified clerk. Therefore, in her behalf, could you send her a claim that she can file without amendment — that is, typed or in pen, a correct excess baggage sum, and an amended per diem (given kitchen facilities, it should be much less than $70.) working with an actual cost or estimated at around $35 or $40. We are tight on this project, especially as I went the extra mile on the term appointment. Many thanks.

December 11, 2002
While waiting for my plane at the Iqaluit airport I met a physician-researcher who had just completed a report on the Nunavut Ministry of Health. She told me about a two-hour conversation she had with a man called TNC in a hotel bar in Rankin Inlet. TNC had lost a friend to suicide. He was deeply bothered by his loss. He went to see a nurse. The nurse became very uncomfortable when TNC mentioned he was depressed and upset by this suicide. She sent him to a Social Worker. The Social Worker was also ill at ease. She called the police. TNC spent the night in jail. They were concerned he might hurt himself. Because the small hamlet had no counselling services, TNC was flown to Yellowknife. He was separated from the only real support system he had — his mother and grandmother in Rankin Inlet.

Later on the First Air Flight I sat beside a young man GRB. GRB worked for Baffin Correctional Centre. He started there in c.1996. He told me about a millionaire who made his fortune by buying high-end buildings in Iqaluit, then renting them at high rents to the Nunavut Government. GRB loved speed — the speed of the snow machine. His best moments were out on the land with a half a dozen friends on powerful machines. His work bothered him. He felt surrounded by uneducated, untrained fellow-workers — many of whom came from Halifax — who cared little for the young offenders. Many were there because they could earn huge salaries — especially with overtime. Some of them didn’t even have high school education and in Iqaluit they were earning much more than they ever could in the Maritimes. It frustrated him to see how these untrained workers wanted to work by the book to earn points from the supervisors. Sometimes a situation could be diffused before it became violent and ugly. By rigidly following the book, a small incident could escalate into an ugly incident very quickly. GRB came to know the offenders so he knew how to calm things. Increasingly the workers who lacked experience but were older than him, made the situations worse. GRB noticed the most improvement in the youth came through the on-the-land program. Youth would spend a couple of months with the elders. They came back healthier and more confident. He commented on the work of the psychiatrist Dr. Q He said that Dr. Q tried to prevent the worst from happening but he was not really in control of the situation. He was not able to make all the decisions that would be beneficial to the youth. GRB said that Iqaluit youth threatening suicide would be sent to the Youth detention centre. He would be stripped down, showered and then given ‘baby dolls’ to wear before being locked in a safe cell where he could do himself no harm. (What a contrast to the treatment my friend’s son received in Ottawa. )


Anna Packwood's guests at her 100th birthday celebration at the NGC

In the 1998 Anna Packwood’s family and friends came from across continents to celebrate her 100th birthday. This was the culmination of research on the Positive Presence of Absence: a history of the African Canadian community through works in the collection of the National Gallery of Canada. I can honestly say that of the ten years working at the NGC, this impromptu gathering — which almost did not happen because of security concerns over the large numbers and the last-minute arrangements — this was the high point of a decade of work there. The National Gallery of Canada now presents six images in their African Canadian section which the portrait bust of Tommy Simmons on their educational web site entitled Cybermuse.

One of the catalysts for my research in the early 1990s was a conversation with Fritz Benjamin, a Haitian-Canadian who was working at that time as a security guard. He asked me who Tommy Simmons was, the man portrayed in the larger than life bronze bust prominently displayed in the water court. I didn’t know but once I started looking there were more questions about more works of art. After sharing my interests with Mairuth Sarsfield, author of No Crystal Stairs and her sister Lucille Vaughan-Cuevas they became my mentors. Lucille in particular spent hours with me clarifying histories. I eventually met other members of the Montreal community and wove various fragments together so I could present this walking tour to friends, then to fellow graduate students and finally to the public. It was a personal project that the Gallery promoted from 1995-1997 when they advertised it and offered it as a contract tour.

The image is my first experiment in using Adobe Photoshop to create transparent .png images. I needed to learn .png for my new Google Earth community.

The Adobe Photoshop layers include Anna Packwood on the lower left, with a bronze of her daughter, Lucille Vaughan, an activist, educator and librarian. Beside them is Dr. Carrie Best, pioneer Nova Scotia journalist, activist and author. To the right of the water court is Jennifer Hodge Sarsfield, Anna Packwood’s granddaughter ,a pioneer in Canadian film narratology and beside her is the cover of Mairuth Sarsfield’s book entitled No Crystal Stairs, which was on the short list for Canada Reads filmmaker. A photograph taken in that part of Montreal Mairuth called ‘burgundy city’ shows Mairuth, Susan and Lucille, Anna Packwoods, daughters in the 1940? The collage of the family and friends from across the States, Canada and the Caribbean wasn’t large enough to include them all.

I wrote this in a May 3, 1998 thank you note to NGC Education Division Director, Mary Ellen Herbert, CC: Judith Parker, Mairuth Sarsfield.

After the luncheon celebration with Anne Packwood, about fifty of the invited guests came to the NGC. It was larger than anticipated but it was a huge success. Among the guests were Dr. Carrie Best, OC., Lucille Vaughan-Cuevas, Dominique Sarsfield, numerous friends of Anne Packwood from many different parts of Canada from Edmonton, Dartmouth, and of course, Montreal. There were guests from the United States and from Bermuda. The group included four or five elderly people in wheelchairs, a baby in a carriage, children of all ages. After a warm greeting under the Water Court we went to the Seminar Room. I showed about a dozen slides of the Picasso exhibition and a few of Orson Wheeler’s sculptures: Tommy Simmons and Lucille Vaughan-Cuevas. The group applauded warmly when they saw the bust of Lucille. Then we went to the Water Court to see Tommy Simmons. The discussion there is something I wish I had on tape. Many at first did not recognize the model by name or by the sculpted bust. But as we talked more and more people remembered something about him. One woman had babysat his children. Another played on teams that competed with his. Another told me of a Wheeler sculpture of an African Canadian model once owned by David? States. An artist from Detroit was excited by what could be done in galleries and plans on following up when she gets home. I invited Lucille to speak about her experience as Wheeler’s model for the 1950’s bust. It was captivating listening to her describe Wheeler’s special qualities as educator and artist. She had been particularly touched by his openness to Black history at that time. This experience was a highlight for me in my years at the NGC.

In the 1920’s awareness of black culture spread from Harlem in New York across the continent and the ocean. During this Renaissance African American arts and literature reached new pinnacles of celebrity. Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong inspired Canadians. Visual artists in Canada attempted to reverse negative stereotypes of black subjects. This sculpture of Tommy Simmons, which celebrates both his blackness and his individuality, gave the emerging artist Orson Wheeler a sense of accomplishment. Simmons was a Montreal sleeping car porter for forty-three years. Work conditions were difficult. The transcontinental trips meant days away from home. Severe employment limitations were placed on black workers. Many, including those with higher education, even doctors and lawyers, were obliged to become porters. Sleeping car porters became the economic elite and catalysts of change in African Canadian communities. Tommy Simmons was a dedicated coach of winning teams. His integrated baseball teams which included girls of African, French and Italian descent, were unprecedented in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Because he was bilingual he entered tournaments in French and English communities from Chicoutimi, Québec to St. John, N.B. [Interviews with Carl Simmons and B. Jones, 1995]


See also MySwicki (in process)

Anna Packwoods100th Birthday guests

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